Nothing ever really goes well on The Magicians (series writing: Sera Gamble, 27 episodes). Plans either fall apart, or they succeed at a grave cost. For a show that features magical college, fantastical worlds, and multiple musical numbers, it can all get pretty bleak. With so many deals and trade-offs made, it can also be hard to keep track of what is happening. Who is alive? Who isn't? Who was alive and then was not alive and is now kind of alive but definitely not the same? Season 3 of The Magicians premieres on Jan. 10, but if you don't have time to catch up on the show before then, this recap of The Magicians Season 2 will bring you back to the world of Brakebills and Fillory.
The first season of The Magicians saw the frequently melancholy Quentin Coldwater get everything he ever wanted. He discovered that magic was real, and was chosen to study it at Brakebills. He made cool magical friends like Alice, Elliot, Penny, and Margo, and then slept with most of them. He discovered that the magical land he read about as a child, Fillory, is real. He also discovered that none of it made him happy. Season 1 ended with all of his friends bleeding on the ground after being attacked by "The Beast," who begun working alongside his childhood best friend, Julia. So what happened between that and the beginning of Season 3?
The Beast Is Dead & Reynard Steps Up
After chasing him throughout Season 1, Quentin and friends finally track down and kill The Beast — but not without suffering a great loss. However, The Beast's death allows the trickster God Reynard to become the big bad of the series, continuing to chase power after having killed many people and committed numerous atrocities. In the world of The Magicians, when one foe falls there is always something bigger and scarier that fills the void.
Alice Is Dead & Then Not Dead
Alice attempts to cast a spell strong enough to stop The Beast, but tragically ends up turning into a niffin — a being of pure magic created when someone casting a spell cannot control said spell. While it seems that Alice's niffin-ing resulted in her death, it turns out Niffin Alice decided to move in to Quentin's head and begin haunting/controlling him. After a quick visit to the Underworld, Quentin is able to combine Niffin Alice with Alice's "Shade" (the part of one's soul that feels empathy) to bring Alice back to life – although she's far from the same Alice that Quentin knew.
Penny's Hands Go Haywire & Gets A Library Card
After getting his hands cut off in Season 1, Penny heals them in a magical river in Fillory. However, by offending the River Watcher, he has a cursed placed on him that does not allow him to control his hands. Penny spends much of the season trying to regain control, which he eventually does with the help of The White Lady, a wish-granting goat woman. After getting his hands back, he makes up with Kady to help take down Reynard. But to do so, he ends up giving his life over to the service of The Library in exchange for accessing the materials stored within. It's there that he discovers that the last 20 pages of the books that detail the life of every living person are all blank — indicating that some kind of calamity is on the horizon.
Elliot And Margo Rule Fillory & Lose An Eye
Elliot, Margo, Quentin, and Alice inherit rule of Fillory early in Season 2, but after Alice's death Quentin goes MIA, leaving Elliot and Margo to pick up the pieces. They quickly learn that throwing parties and running kingdoms are entirely different skill sets, and start ill-advised wars while losing the trust of their own people. It doesn't help that the only living God of Fillory, Ember, has defecated in the Wellspring (the source of magic) leaving the entire kingdom occasionally without magic. To save magic, Margo makes a deal with the Fairy race who are promised Elliot's wife and unborn child, and leave Margo with only one eye. The season ends with the Fairy's outside of Fillory — ready to attack and take what they believe is theirs.
Quentin Saves The World & Kills Magic
While being mostly absent from ruling Fillory while trying to bring Alice back to life, Quentin ultimately becomes the person who saves it. While trying to return to Fillory, Quentin discovers that Umber, the other God of Fillory, faked his own death to escape his brother Ember. Quentin tricks the two into reuniting, leading to a bloody confrontation that leaves Umber dead — and allows Quentin the perfect opportunity to put a sword in the side of the chaotic Ember, who had been toying with Fillory's fate and threatened to destroy the entire kingdom. It seemed like a major win for Quentin, until whichever Gods that ruled over Ember and Umber decided to shut down all magic as punishment for their deaths. Whoops.
Julia Loses Her Shade & Finds A Spark Of Hope
While no one in The Magicians has it easy, few have it worse than Julia. After joining a group of Magicians that were tricked into summoning the trickster god Reynard, the being then raped Julia and impregnated her. She terminated the pregnancy, but lost part of her shade in the process. Her final plan to confront and kill Reynard falters when Reynard's mother — Persephone, Our Lady Underground, whom Julia's group worshipped and tried to summon — asks Julia to show mercy. Persephone then whisks Reynard away — but gives Julia her shade back in exchange. Finally, after all magic has been shut off, Julia shows Quentin that there may still be magic somewhere as she sits next to him, doing a simple spell that creates a spark.
Season 2 covers a lot of ground, and it's likely that Season 3 will continue at the same breakneck pace as the two seasons before it. While Season 2 ended on a hopeful note, fans shouldn't expect things to be hunky dory for the students of Brakebills. As a character from another famous fantasy show once said, "If you think this has a happy ending, you haven't been paying attention."
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